Wayns, especially was sizzling hot in the first half, scoring 17 of his 21 points en route to a 40-29 halftime lead. He finished with three 3-point field goals and added a couple of steals to go along with his team-high 21 points.
The Wildcats were able to navigate through the Orange zone-defense by shooting three over it. The Orangemen came in the game ranked number three nationally but the number seven-ranked Wildcats and got a tremendous game from Wayns and the team’s other guards.
Senior Corey Fisher accounted for a game-high seven assists, adding 16 points on the way. Just like Wayns, Fisher finished with three three-point field goals. Nova couldn’t miss in the first half as they held a two-digit lead for most of the first twenty-minutes.
However, the biggest threat from behind-the-arc was senior Corey Stokes. He shot 11 times from three-point range and dropped four of them as the Wildcats continued to shoot over Syracuse’s famous three-two defnse.. By the end of the game, Stokes compiled 16 points, two assists and two rebounds.
In addition to their shooting prowess, Nova received a major contribution from down-low. Antonio Pena scored 10 points along with seven rebounds and Mouphtaou Yarou added seven points and four rebounds.
The biggest effort in the paint came from off the bench as Maurice Sutton came in and played with passion. He didn’t fill up the box score, finishing with just eight points and five rebounds, but he added two blocks and played huge in the paint against Syracuse’s big men.
Speaking of the Orangemen’s big men, Rick Jackson had no problem dominating the glass, securing a game-high 15 rebounds and 16 points. Kris Joseph, who missed the game against Pittsburgh with a concussion after banging his head on the floor, came back strong, scoring a game-high 23 points.
The Orange can blame their ball security for the loss against Nova. The aforementioned duo of Joseph and Jackson combined for 10 of Syracuse’s 15 turnovers.
Nova struggled as well controlling the ball, turning the rock over 10 times, but a handful of those turnovers came late in the game when Syracuse began to apply full-court pressure.
With the win, the Villanova senior class will finish with three victories at the Carrier Dome. Villanova may become the biggest rival to Syracuse now, seeing that they have won more games than any other program at the Carrier Dome against Syracuse.
Villanova moves to 17-2 (5-1) on the season, while Syracuse, who have lost two in-a-row, moves to 18-2 (5-2).
These two teams will meet again on February 21.